Great Little Walks



GLW1110 : Lower Longsleddale

Sunday 25th September 2011

It came as a bit of a surprise to me that it is over two years since we visited Lower Middle Longsleddale.  We had then intended to visit more of that long lovely valley but had quite forgotten about it until today.  Somewhat later in the day than intended, we parked near Garnet Bridge and immediately saw two of the better displays of washing!

The first washing

Garnett Bridge falls (plus first washing)

Second washing with geese

We followed the footpath up the western side of the valley passing several interesting sights including:

  • A small unnamed tarn
  • A propeller and shaft in an invisible boat
  • Cattle and sheep peacefully grazing
  • Strange slabs standing like small gravestones by the side of the path
  • A fine old cottage at Nether House Farm

A small unnamed tarn

A propeller

A friendly cow

Looking up Longsleddale

More peaceful cattle and sheep

Strange slabs by the side of the path

Nether House Farm

Looking up Longsleddale

A late lunch was taken by the River Sprint, just before our turning point at Docker Nook. This is one of the homes of Meg and Mog, or at least of their creator, Helen Nicoll, who was born in Natland, the village where we live, in 1937.  There was an item about her and Docker Nook on the old Natland website,, but, as that no longer exists, the Where Are They Now? item is reproduced below.

Meg & Mog house at Docker Nook

Team picture crossing the River Sprint

After a short road stretch, we turned off at Murthwaite and began the climb up the hill. Looking back, as we rose up, first Froswick, then Ill Bell and finally Yoke came into view, the weather improving as we climbed.

Cottage at Murthwaite

Looking back up the valley

Yoke (just), Ill Bell and Froswick now in sight

Having passed over the shoulder of Murthwaite Knott, a completely different but equally impressive panorama opened up- Whiteside plus that of the Whinfell range and, in particular, the Howgills.


The Whinfell and the Howgill ranges

Another unnamed tarn!

The track down

A friendly (?) bull

Friendly bull with friends!

Our route led down to the A6.  The original intention had been to cross over and explore the countryside on the other side but time was getting tight.

The weather was weird. There was hardly a cloud in the sky yet it was raining.  Only ever so slightly but definitely rain, falling from who knows where?

On the hill, on the east side of the mouth of the Longsleddale Valley is a building that looks like a large hen hut.  The map calls it a filtration plant which suggests that it might be something to do with the Haweswater to Manchester water tunnel.  However I can find nothing about it on the internet.  Anyone know anything?

A rain cloud?????

The hen house filtration plant!

The path down to Garnett Bridge and the car was a bit of a challenge.  Somewhat overgrown with brambles and nettles but the biggest problems were the very slippery stones underfoot!

Garnet Bridge, Potter Fell behind.

The unfriendly path!

However, we safely negotiated the hazards and returned home in good time for Margaret to produce and deliver Granny's tea!

Don, 25th September 2011



25th September 2011


4.8 miles

Height climbed:

672 feet

Key Features:

Lower Longsleddale


For more, click on Great Little Walks 2009 or Great Little Walks 2010


Where Are They Now?

Continuing the occasional series featuring former Natlanders

Meg, Mog and Helen Nicoll

Who is the most famous Natlander?

Some would, no doubt, say Yan, Hamilton and Woody of the rock band British Sea Power.

However, a contender for the title is Helen Nicoll, although perhaps the names of her literary progeny, the children's favourites Meg and Mog, are more widely recognised than that of their creator.

For those who missed out on this part of childhood, Meg is a witch whose spells usually end in disaster whilst Mog is her long suffering cat.  Another key character is Og, the owl.

That Helen Nicoll was born in Natland in 1937, was discovered from the Puffin Books website whilst googling the word "Natland".  It goes on to say:

She was educated at schools in Bristol; Dartington Hall, Devon; and Froebel Education Institute, London. Helen Nicoll married Robert Kime in 1970 and they have one daughter and one son.

Helen Nicoll was a television producer with the BBC for many years. It was here, as Producer of the children's educational series Watch, that she first met Jan Pienkowski. After working together for four years, they decided it was time to preserve their creativity in book form for future generations of children to enjoy. The result is the immensely popular Meg and Mog series.

In addition to the Meg and Mog series, Helen has a long and varied association with Puffin - as editor of the Junior Puffin magazine The Egg from 1977 - 1979, as compiler of the popular children's poetry anthology Poems for Seven Year Olds and Under, illustrated by Michael Foreman, and through her partnership with Puffin, the enormously popular series of Puffin Cover to Cover story tapes of which Helen is the Producer.

This information is, to an extent, repeated on several literary websites; one French site suggests that she grew up in Westmorland which might be accurate or just a loose translation of a summary the above.

The Guardian described her, in 2004, as "... tall and thin, with straight, dark hair and Yohji Yamamoto shoes; iconic shoes that never date. He [Pienkowski] is rounder, fuzzier at the edges, but punctuated by a very precise beard. Naturally, she is Meg and he is Owl [Og], straight out of those storybooks the two of them created together, a look as distinct as a fashion house, pictures in unmistakable colours, loud and clear, like jelly beans."   

The article goes on to describe how they used to conjure up their stories by meeting at a service station halfway between their homes.

The describes her significant part in producing the cassette tapes of the Harry Potter stories, narrated by Stephen Fry.

Curious to find out more about Helen Nicoll, wrote inviting her to contribute her memories of Natland, if any!  Unfortunately, despite several direct and indirect attepts to involve her, no reply has been received. Although she currently lives in Wiltshire, it seems that she maintains links with the area as the Lake District National Park Authority records Mrs Helen Kime as applying last year for permission for the "Repair, alteration and refurbishment of house. Conversion of barn to form ancillary domestic accommodation to house a library" in Longsleddale.  So maybe Meg and Mog may yet make an appearance in the area!

Does anyone remember Helen Nicoll from their youth?

Editor, 3rd October 2009


Afternote:  Helen Nicoll died in 2012



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These pages are
photo archives of
Don and Margaret's


The Arnside Round

The Leighton Loop

 Parts Not Previously Visited!

 Around Underley Hall


The Beetham Round

Farleton Knott


Howgill and Lune

Lower Longsleddale

South from Bowland Bridge



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